We are very excited to share this interview with Dave and Deb of The Planet D! As a travel enthusiast, I’ve always found myself poring over hours and hours worth of information that travel blogs have to offer. The Planet D blog is one of the best there is.
The Planet D blog has been included in the Forbes list of Top 10 Travel Influencers in the World and has also won the Society of American Travel Writer’s (SATW) Travel Blog of the Year, claiming the top spot, with National Geographic coming in second (that’s a very big deal!). These are just a few things Dave and Deb have achieved so far, and they’re still going strong.
When you consider their gorgeous Instagram travel photos (seriously go check it out), their very informative travel YouTube videos, and their top-notch blog, it’s easy to see that Dave and Deb have done a lot for the world of travel.
Their initial road to success is a great story. Their hard work and the challenges they’ve had to overcome make their story a great learning experience. Without further ado, here’s Dave and Deb’s interview.
1. I read on your blog that you started out in 2007 and worked in the film industry before you did travel blogging full time. Having been part of exciting movies such as X-Men, Chicago, and The Incredible Hulk, how difficult was it to transition from your previous work to having a travel blog, and what pushed you to do blogging full time?
It wasn’t difficult for us at all to transition, as we had a solid plan of what we wanted to achieve. We started the blog while still keeping our jobs in the film industry and learned all we could about the business of blogging and social media while saving up to start our travels.
In 2007, we signed up for the Tour d’Afrique — a cycling race from Cairo to Cape Town — and spent that year training for the race while also working on our blog. We hired a publicist to get some media appearances and speaking engagements, and by the time we left for Africa in 2008, we had a bit of a following.
When we came back from Africa, we went back to work to save money while also focusing on the blog. In 2009, we left for India where we began our full-time travels. So, while it wasn’t difficult, it was time-consuming. It took us two years of building our name and brand before we could dive into blogging full time.
2. How do you balance maintaining a blog and traveling? Can you give us some tips on balancing time, energy, and resources doing both?
Finding balance has been the most difficult part of running a travel blog. For several years, we felt that we needed to keep traveling and going to exotic destinations as much as possible. We were always looking for new adventures, and we jumped across the globe taking contracts and press trips to keep content going on our blog and social channels. It was a lot of work doing adventures and sightseeing all day while updating the blog and editing videos and photos at night.
I don’t know where we found the energy. It seemed that we were constantly on the go and constantly creating content. But when you find something you love, it is easy to put one-hundred percent into it. We have so much fun doing what we do. We enjoy running the blog as much as we enjoy the travel.
The biggest balancing act was staying in touch with friends and family. We spent so much time on the road, we lost touch with people at home. We’re now working on traveling a little less so we can balance taking care of our health and creating a community with our friends again. Plus, we need to see our families more. Because we’ve established a strong business, we feel that we don’t have to travel every single day of the year.
3. You’ve been blogging for over a decade — how do you find new things to write about and make it different from what you’ve done in the years before?
The blog has changed a lot over the years. When we first started, it was more of a daily diary. But in the past few years, it has become more of an information and travel resource. Social media channels like Instagram stories and Twitter have taken over the daily diary part of our travels. Our followers go to our social channels for our daily updates and personalities, while our blog is very much a place for trip planning and finding information.
Finding things to write about has never been a problem. We travel constantly and are always trying new things. We have a lot of experience to draw upon and a lot of information to share, so even if we have downtime from the road, we have destination pieces to write about, we have ideas for advice to give and tips on where to go and what to do.
4. Can you please share your most challenging experience as travel bloggers?
The biggest challenge we have is balancing all the different channels that we run. We want to keep up to date on YouTube and post a video a week, we want to share beautiful imagery on Instagram, and we want to cut more videos for Twitter and Facebook. But finding the time to do it all is difficult. We do have a few people helping us out, but we’re not the best at delegating and need to learn to hire the right people to help us out where we need it to free up our time so we can concentrate on the blog. The blog is truly our cornerstone content. Different social channels come and go, but the blog is our baby, it’s where all our content lives and it’s where we can offer the most advice.
5. What are some of the advantages of being a blogger in the travel niche versus disadvantages of the niche?
I think being a blogger in the travel niche has a lot of advantages. First of all, we get to explore the world and earn a living doing so! We get to share our experiences and inspire others to do what we do. Travel is also a very positive experience. It’s easy to write about something that brings joy to people’s lives.
6. What has been your biggest win when it comes to affiliate marketing? For example, what’s a strategy that has paid off or a particular campaign or something you’re proud of.
Starting affiliate marketing in the first place was our biggest win. We spent so many years avoiding it because we didn’t know much about it and didn’t think we had a big enough audience. But I do think that building traffic in the first place and focusing on content rather than sales helped us in the long run.
Because we built a website and brand with authority, it was easier for us to make sales once we started adding affiliate income to our posts. We have a lot of travel experience with companies, booking websites, and different travel brands, so we can recommend them with confidence.
7. What’s in store for the rest of 2018? What do you hope to do more of?
We hope to do more public speaking. We want to be able to share our knowledge and the steps of our journey to getting where we are today. It’s been a long time building our business, and now we want to give back both to the business community and the travel community. We would like to focus more on charities and positive projects in the travel field.
Dave and Deb, ThePlanetD.com